One team striving to build a powerhouse status against another desperate to reclaim theirs will ensure the beginning of a new NEAFL season opens with a bang this Friday.
Canberra and Southport will head into their season opener clash at Allinsure Park with plenty of new faces and renewed enthusiasm to improve on their seventh and ninth-placed finishes respectively last year.
Demons captain Aaron Bruce – who last week was announced sole captain following the departure of Jordan Harper last year – said the players cannot wait to hit the ground running in their first match.
With a young side bursting at the seams with talent, Bruce hopes the playing group can leave their mark on the competition in 2018.
“You’re always nervous before the first game of the season, we’re probably just excited to get out there a play against a real opposition in our comp and get the season underway,” he said.
“We’re a little unsure of what Southport will bring and where they’re up to but that’s their business and we just need to worry about what we can control.
“Our game style is to be a really difficult team to play against and part of that is just bringing our pressure and intensity at the footy to the game from the start.
“That’s where we base our game from so that’s where our focus will be.”
Facing the Demons on home turf is a new-look Southport desperate to return to the finals stage the club has been accustomed to in its past.
But recent years has seen the Sharks slip to the bottom of the pack, and they haven’t tasted finals action since losing an Elimination Final to Sydney University in 2015.
Southport’s recruiting has indicated a rejuvenated list under new coach Stephen Daniel, and the likes of Josh Clayton, Ryan Davis, Brodie Murdoch and Michael Manteit has added extra experience and class to their list.
After two dominant pre-season wins for the Demons against Albury and Lavington, Bruce said they will relish the opportunity to come up against tougher opposition.
“We have a lot of new players, similarly but not to the same extent to what Southport does,” he said.
“With our new recruits and a combination of what’s been a pretty hard pre-season, we’re looking forward to see what comes about with proper NEAFL opposition this weekend.
“We have the core group from last year, and the guys that have come in already know a lot of our existing players through the GIANTS and Swans Academy, so there’s a lot of bonds already formed.
“The guys have been able to pick up where they left off previously and that’s been quite easy for everyone really. We’ve got a good group together.”
The match kicks off at 2pm at Allinsure Park on Friday, and it will be live streamed on NEAFL TV.